Water of Life

‘Water of Life’ through local and global partnerships

RE with Soul unit Water of Life
School Blair Peach Primary School, Southall KS2
Location Southall, Middlesex
Parish / Local Authority Southall
Diocese London
Borough London Borough of Ealing
School Capacity 440 primary pupils, 60 nursery pupils
Partnership ALMA network: Blair Peach Primary School, St George’s C of E Church Southall and Lichinga, Mozambique
Funding Blair Peach Primary School and St George’s church
Year group Year 5
Number of pupils 60
Start Date June 2014
Time spent 6 x 2 hour sessions over 6 weeks
Completion Date July 2014
Noah's ark

Noah’s ark

In this citizenship-rich unit for KS2, sixty Year 5 pupils focussed on exploring the significance of water, both as a physical necessity for life and in its spiritual significance in Christianity.

Opportunities to explore directly the significance of water in Christianity in both UK and Mozambique, and to engage with citizenship objectives were built into the work through the ALMA network of partnerships between churches and schools in the UK and in Mozambique. Pupils were able to explore ‘live relationships’ between Christian believers in their local church communities and communities in Mozambique that demonstrated aspects of ‘the significance of water’. In addition there were opportunities through creative partnerships for pupils to share directly in projects arising from the existing relationships between local churches and their Mozambican neighbours.

Encouraging pupils to consider key questions: ‘What is significant about water in Christianity?’ and ‘What difference does baptism makes to a Christian believer?’ prompted pupils to consider their own experiences and creative ways that they might express these.

Key questions for enquiry-based learning

A series of key questions which promoted progressively deeper thinking and reflective skills, provided a framework for the enquiry based learning journey investigating the significance of water and the sacrament of Baptism in Christianity. For example the big question starter for this unit was: What is the significance of water in Christianity’? This multi-levelled approach to RE offered additional RE learning objectives: How Christians in the UK and Mozambique celebrate Baptism? What can we learn from Christian religious buildings about the significance of water? How do believers express their faith through the arts?

The RE with Soul enquiry-based approach effectively embedded the following key questions to initiate and support the investigation:

  • What is water and why is it important?
  • What inspires people to help others who don’t have clean water?
  • What is the significance of water in OT and NT scripture?
  • How do these stories help us understand Christian baptism?
  • How and why was Jesus baptised?
  • Why is water used to baptise a believer?
  • What is Baptism?
  • Why is it called a sacrament?
  • What difference does being baptised make to a Christian believer?
  • What difference does being baptised make to a Christian believer?
  • What is the Holy Spirit and what difference does it make to a believers life?
  • How does being Baptised into the Christian faith and having the help of the Holy Spirit help a believer develop the fruit of the spirit?
  • How does having the fruit of the spirit inspire a believer and help them to live out the commandment to ‘Love God and Love your neighbour as yourself’?
  • What motivates and enables individuals and churches to love their ‘overseas neighbours’?

Underlying questions supported by the enquiry:

  • How do beliefs influence action?
  • How do rituals and liturgy express core beliefs for example in the Sacrament of Baptism?
  • How do places of worship serve their communities?
  • What is the role and influence of community faith leaders?
  • How are inner feelings, beliefs and experiences expressed in religion and in life?
  • How do they influence the way we live?
  • What is most important to us and how do we show this?

Developing reflective practices

Opportunity for verbal and visual, silent and drama-led, collective and individual reflections punctuate the RE with Soul sessions to help develop pupils reflective practise and critical thinking skills, whilst enhancing the quality of their learning experience as they pursue the enquiry.

Engaging with the local church and overseas partnership

dramatising Bible stories using a parachute

dramatising Bible stories using a parachute

Unpacking and reflecting on core theological concepts through creative process

Researching, interpretation, investigating, analysis, evaluation and reflection were skills being exercised throughout the unit, undergirdingthe theological exploration and extended reflection through the banner-making.

After a whole class introduction to the significance of water through Water Aid resources and a Water Aid assembly, pupils explore the spiritual significance of water in Christianity through a series of interactive drama sketches using a parachute,led by the local vicar. They engaged in a discussion about Baptism and what it means to Christian believers in the UK, and to the church in Lichinga. Pupils then divided into groups to investigate the textual context for the importance of water in Christianity. They considered the key questions: How do Sacred Texts influence the lives of individuals and communities in seeking to understand the significance of water and importance of baptism. They considered Jesus Baptism and the liturgy for the baptism service.

Partnership with churches and communities in Mozambique

ALMA  Lichinga Mozambique

ALMA Lichinga Mozambique

They found out first hand how their local parish church ‘love their Mozambican neighbour’. This was facilitated through meeting with church leaders and members who had ‘made friendships with leaders and members of the ALMA linked church community in Lichinga, via email communication and through visiting Mozambique. Visiting their local parish church, finding out about work in the local community, how ALMA partnerships work, and using email communication, photographs videos and individuals first-hand accounts, pupils deepened their understanding of ways in which Christian believers express their love for their neighbour’ in their local community and Africa. They were able to evaluate the impact this has on individuals and communities.

Values-framed RE

Values in action through learning were deliberately reinforced in small group activities – appointing team leaders to ensure pupils were able to contribute equally, and that all ideas were listened to and considered. This reinforced the RE with Soul ethos of cooperating, encouraging, helping, problem-solving, empathising that are threaded through the learning process and partnerships.

Applied RE  – Live values

How are we inspired to ‘love our neighbour’?

Creating a gift for our neighbour in  Mozambique

Both the local church in Southall and parish church in Lichinga had community projects that they wanted to undertake. For example Lichinga were completing a church building and wanted a series of banners to hang in the church that would encourage the spiritual growth of the congregation there.

Pupils engaged directly in loving their neighbour as themselves through asking the linked church in Mozambique what they needed. They were putting in some new windows and thought that a stained glass window designed by pupils would be good. Year 5 pupils were given the brief to create a series of designs on the theme of water in Christianity including baptism, to hang in the church there.

This provided the school with a unique opportunity for extending their own relationship with Lichinga, supported by the local church’s ALMA partnership framework, enabling exploration and recognition of diversity within religions, and narrowing distance.

Water of Life  – Extended creative Reflection

An extended creative reflection flowed from the theological enquiry, which focussed on the creation of designs for stained glass, as a response to the brief, exploring the key questions: how can we love our neighbours as ourselves through creating the window designs? What difference will the message of the window designs make to the congregation in Lichinga?

Considering how theological concepts are communicated visually in churches for example stained glass windows as an expression of worship and teaching tool, formed the transition from learning about the theology of water and baptism to undertaking the extended creative reflection, in the form of the designs for stained glass windows. Discussion on the theme of water in Christianity flowed through the response to the brief for Lichinga. How can we design our banner to communicate the message about water in Christianity to church in Lichinga?

Decisions were made about how the five window designs could cohere whilst each concept could be individually expressed. Pupils drew their ideas from window designs from Emma Blount’s stained glass designs.

Using the visual framework of stained glass pupils then visualised their ideas individually and collectively in their small groups for the concept: Jesus’s example and what it means in the world. Reflective questions were given to each group to further challenge their thinking skills as they refined their design work.

Community through creativity, sharing values and skills

~ Crossing boundaries of belief

Pupils presented their groups initial visual ideas to the other groups, inviting feedback for the effectiveness of their visual communication of the concept, before translating their designs into tissue collage. They were supported in enlarging designs to fit the scale of windows. See videos of pupils discussing ideas.

Parents, staff, church members and leaders shared in the creative processes enabling collaborative exploration and communication of bigger ideas, inspiring confidence personal discovery, and positive action relating to beliefs, identity and belonging.

Sharing our learning journey with our friends in Lichinga, Mozambique was an integral part of the learning process. Pupils used ICT to prepare assembly presentations and to write letters to congregation members in Lichinga about their experience, the window designs and interpretation. These activities were used to enable pupils to reflect on their learning. During the project staff were in email communication with Lichinga church – photos and information was exchanged to enable a shared learning dynamic.

RE with Soul Benefits:

  • Established ALMA partnerships between churches and communities across London and Mozambique, enable a global perspective for RE by this teaching, offer opportunities for schools to creatively engage in exploring ‘live’ relationships that model these core values, in western and non-western community contexts.
  • The enquiry led approach embedded in this relational ‘values in action’ approach to RE and Global Citizenship inspires depth of engagement and enables deeper understanding of the significance and impact of Christianity, and its core values on individuals and communities, locally and globally.
  • Transformational teaching and learning through resources that have at their heart an encounter between UK students and Mozambican students.
  • Creative approaches to RE teaching and learning enhance pupil engagement – link thinking, learning and making,
  • Integrating a ‘values in action’ element into RE education brings teaching and learning to life, makes it meaningful and releases the potential for RE to catalyse action positive change in the school community and beyond.
  • Affirming cultural identity – enabling engagement through shared creativity

What ensured the success of RE with Soul ‘Water of Life’

  • ALMA partnerships are well established and shared between parish churches in Southall and communities in Mozambique. This ALMA church and school partnership project offered an opportunity for a ‘values in action’ focus for RE. The core Christian value ‘Love your neighbour’ was threaded through the project from the outset, both underpinning all the project relationships and the inspired the creative outcome.
  • Parish relationships that St George’s has forged with local schools. St George’s Church long standing commitment to supporting their local schools in Collective Worship, enriching RE teaching and learning, and pastoral relationships, Commitment to maintaining effectiveness in developing the working relationship school to church, church to school project partnerships – creativity, openness, flexibility.
  • School partnerships already established with parents and the local community. Blair Peach Primary School’s commitment to deliver a high quality enquiry led creative RE curriculum that meets the needs of the school community and draws on the established partnerships with faith leaders, places of worship in the multi-faith community, of which they are a part.
  • Project Management for effective RE teaching and learning between St George’s, Blair Peach Primary School and Lichinga (ALMA)
  • Understanding RE curriculum priorities for enquiry-based learning and extended creative relfection and creative approaches to RE teaching and Learning as a means to engage pupils.
  • Harnessing technology such as internet contact and sharing digital pictures Impact of the RE with Soul on school ethos School community relationships are greatly enriched by the ALMA partnership links, which are not limited to RE. The Citizenship and values aspects of the RE with Soul approach offers many opportunities for wider curriculum links and engagement with social concerns for the school for example deepening dialogue between nations, enabling, mutual understanding, broadening and deepening perspective, bridging cultural and religious difference.